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O&G company lobbying UCP government to change municipal taxes

Tourmaline Oil Corp., a Calgary-based oil and gas company, has been meeting with Alberta government officials since last summer asking them to consider making changes to municipal taxes.

According to the Alberta Lobbyist Registry, the company hired the Toronto-based lobbying firm Counsel Public Affairs Inc. last August. Two days later, CPA filed an initial return with the registry.

That initial return indicated that CPA intended to lobby for two reasons:

Seeking reform to address historical valuation inequity in Alberta’s oil and gas asset assessments.

and

Advancing competitiveness in how oil and gas companies are taxed municipally compared to similar projects across provincial borders. Appropriately valuing well-site land in a manner consistent with recent assessment review board decisions.

It seems that the company is worried that Alberta is valuing land at higher rates than other provinces in Canada. I mean, technically, their language could imply that they think the valuation is too low, but that does seem unlikely.

Tourmaline’s contract with CPA was for only a month, but they filed a second initial return in November, which also indicated the same two purposes for the lobbying. The new contract was to run from October 2020 until 2021.

In a notice of change filed this past February, Tourmaline also applied for 3 pools of government funding between then and February 2020:

ERA Natural Gas Challenge$3.2 million
ERA Shovel Ready Challenge$15 million
Alberta Environment & Parks$7.2 million
Carbon Connect International$1 million
Total$26.4 million
ERA = Emissions Reduction Alberta

Later that month, CPA filed another notice of change, indicating that they’d brought Andrew Sennyah onto their lobbying team. He was listed as a Western Canada consultant.

Prior to joining CPA, Sennyah enjoyed many years working with Jason Kenney and the UCP.

He started as a summer intern for Kenney in 2015 while Kenney was the federal multiculturalism minister. Between 2018 and 2019, he was outreach coordinator for the UCP caucus while they were the official opposition party. After the 2019 election, Sennyah was ministerial assistant to Jason Nixon, Alberta’s environment minister, until February 2020. he joined CPA the following September.

A March notice of change reported that Tourmaline had received roughly $30,000 from Energy Efficiency Alberta as part of their Strategic Energy Management programme.

A May notice of change added a $3 million request through Alberta Innovates’ TIER Economic Recovery Program, bring the combined amount requested from the government to $29.4 million.

A few weeks later, a notice of change claiming that they received only $348,800 of the $3.2 million they had requested from the ERA Natural Gas Challenge.

In a notice of change filed last week, CPA indicated that their contract with Tourmaline will actually finish next month, rather than October.

By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 4 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

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